For Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, a rapidly growing food and beverage chain, the list of modern-day networking needs start with uninterrupted connectivity — especially for Point-of-Sale (POS). In case of emergency, the company knew it needed a solution with multi-WAN capabilities. Fuzzy’s deployed Cradlepoint’s AER1650 routers and NetCloud Manager, providing primary Edge routing with built-in cellular redundancy and best-in-breed security while boosting cost-efficiencies and scalability.


Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, with 100 locations spread across 11 states, and 30 more sites slated to open by the end of 2016, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is a rapidly expanding member of the fast casual restaurant industry.

Fuzzy’s aims for a distinct, one-of-a-kind customer experience in each of its franchise locations. However, from an administrative perspective, Fuzzy’s also strives for efficient, standardized technology infrastructure options that foster exceptional diversity and flexibility.


“Everything in the store needs connectivity, ranging from the music system to digital signage,” said Briton Smetzer, director of IT operations at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.

Other essentials for modern-day restaurants include POS, guest WiFi, and back-office administration — each of which depends on Internet access.

“It’s so important that we have an active connection,” said Smetzer.

Many Fuzzy’s eateries are located in small towns, some of which lack reliable wired-line broadband service. Whenever connectivity is interrupted, the company’s ability to run credit cards comes to a halt. They can process card payments offline and store the information until connectivity is regained, but this practice is highly vulnerable to fraudulent payments.

Because wired-line ISP reliability varies from one city or town to the next, Fuzzy’s also needed solutions that could be utilized for either network failover or primary WAN connectivity — or even both simultaneously. Additionally, with PCI Compliance at top of mind, Fuzzy’s sought solutions that could easily support a variety of cloud-based security features via user-friendly remote cloud management.


Fuzzy’s Taco Shop selected Cradlepoint’s AER1650 routing platforms and NetCloud Manager (NCM) for deployment in each of its restaurants, spread among 37 franchise groups. Fuzzy’s eateries use the AER1650 for primary wired WAN and backup connectivity.

With Cradlepoint’s NCM, Fuzzy’s IT team seamlessly supports dozens of restaurant staffs, most of which lack tech-savvy personnel on site. Technology issues can be addressed from a central location, without truck rolls. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop secured each restaurant with Cradlepoint Threat Management and Internet security for maximum protection against potential threats on the network.


Uninterrupted Credit Card Transactions: For the first time, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is offering its franchisees a network solution with “four-nines” of WAN uptime. The AER1650 is purpose-built for micro-branch networks.

“I’ve never had a Cradlepoint fail on me,” said Briton Smetzer, Director of IT Operations, Fuzzy’s Tacos.

Highly reliable POS access prevents guest frustration and drastically reduces the amount of money lost from fraudulent and declined credit card transactions.

“Losses increase at an exponential rate the longer you’re down. Typically you’re talking thousands of dollars,” said Smetzer.

PCI Compliance: Purpose-built for PCI Compliance, the AER1650 enabled Fuzzy’s Taco Shop to safely and securely move its compliance management efforts in house, which simplifies the process and affords the IT team direct control of firewall rules.

Best-in-Breed Security: With the AER1650 and a managed switch at each restaurant, the Fuzzy’s IT team uses multiple VLANs to establish security zones for guest WiFi, store management, and POS.

The AER1650 enables the company to take advantage of:

  • Intrusion protection and detection systems (IPS/IDS)
  • Zone-based stateful firewall
  • Content filtering for customer WiFi

WAN Diversity: With WAN Diversity enabled by the AER1650, Fuzzy’s can accommodate 4G LTE and DSL through a single networking device, without changing the architecture of its LAN setup. It’s an all-in-one approach for primary and failover connectivity.

High-End Scalability: Fuzzy’s Taco Shop uses NCM not only for cost- efficient troubleshooting, but also for zero-touch deployment and to instantly update firmware and push out patches to eateries throughout the U.S.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s 95 sites or 900 sites,” said Smetzer.

Cost Savings: Fuzzy’s has noticed a variety of cost-efficiencies with Cradlepoint solutions, ranging from better-utilized IT man-hours to less POS downtime and reduced likelihood of data breaches. The cost of a breach can be nearly impossible to recover from and affects every restaurant within the franchise.

“You have to look at how many dollars you lose versus how many dollars would it cost to have a backup. In most cases, it makes more sense to pay for the backup connectivity,” said Smetzer.